Back to blog

The best grammar schools in the UK

Grammar schools

Feb 2, 2023, 10:09 AM

The best grammar schools in the UK

Are you considering a grammar school for your child's secondary education?

There are over 160 grammar schools in the UK, with some counties more densely populated with grammar schools than others (Kent alone is home to nearly 40!).

If you're looking to compare grammar schools in your area, it can be difficult to know where to start. We've done the research for you and collated information about the best grammar schools in the UK, including the latest exam results and details on each school's 11 plus process.

Contents

What is a grammar school?

A grammar school is a secondary school in the UK that accepts pupils based on their academic ability. This means that pupils will sit an entrance exam known as the 11 plus when they are in Year 6. The pupils with the highest scores will then be eligible for a place at the school in Year 7.

Unlike private (independent) schools, grammar schools are funded by the state – so there's no cost for parents. Most grammar schools provide high-quality teaching in a range of subjects and offer a great range of facilities for extracurricular activities, such as music and sport.

Getting into a grammar school is designed to be challenging, so competition can be high – particularly in more densely-populated areas such as London.

Your complete guide to the 11 plus

The 100 best grammar schools in the UK

The list below ranks grammar schools based on their A level and GCSE results in 2022. This information was published by the Sunday Times in December 2022.

Girls | A level: 97.3% A*–B | GCSE: 98.8% A*/A/9/8/7

Atom Nucleus

Boost your child's scores in the 11 plus

Over 90,000 interactive questions, automatically-marked 11 plus practice papers, and instant progress tracking – all on one award-winning platform.

See how Atom Nucleus can help your child excel in their 11 plus exams and start your free trial today.

Discover Atom Nucleus
Atom Nucleus

Boys | A level: 83.1% A*–B | GCSE: 82.2% A*/A/9/8/7

Find grammar schools near you

The top 10 grammar schools in detail

1. The Henrietta Barnett School

The Henrietta Barnett School

© en.wikipedia.org

The Henrietta Barnett School is an all-girls grammar school with academy status in Hampstead Garden Suburb, North London. It was founded in 1911 by Dame Henrietta Barnett, who wished to improve girls' education based on their natural ability rather than family finances.

Henrietta Barnett has been ranked the best girls' grammar school on several occasions, topping the state schools league table for its outstanding academic results (consistently well above the national average). Girls leave Henrietta Barnett for prestigious university destinations including Oxbridge, UCL, King's College London and LSE.

In 2022, The Henrietta Barnett School was awarded the title 'Top Secondary School for Academic Performance' by the Sunday Times.

Entry to The Henrietta Barnett School

Girls hoping to secure a Year 7 place at The Henrietta Barnett School take a two-stage 11 plus test. The first test involves verbal and numerical ability papers, after which shortlisted candidates take English and maths tests set by the school.

How to apply to The Henrietta Barnett School

2. Queen Elizabeth's School

Queen Elizabeth's School, Barnet

© telegraph.co.uk

Queen Elizabeth's School is a boys' London grammar school founded by royal charter in 1573 in Barnet, North London. The school is locally known as QE and its students are referred to as Elizabethans.

QE offers an intellectually rigorous academic programme to its students. Boys study traditional and modern subjects alongside enrichment opportunities, which includes lectures from notable guests and 'symposia' – collaborative research events in partnership with academically-strong girls' schools in the area.

Entry to Queen Elizabeth's School Barnet

Applicants to QE sit the 11 plus exam in September of Year 6. Candidates take written papers in English and maths.

How to apply to Queen Elizabeth's School

3. Wilson's School

Wilson's School Wallington

© yourlocalguardian.co.uk

Wilson's School is an all-boys grammar school with academy status in Sutton, southwest London. It was originally founded by royal charter in Camberwell (South London) in 1615, making it one of the oldest state schools in England. Wilson's School was named 'London Secondary School of the Decade' by the Sunday Times in 2020.

Students at Wilson's School study a wide range of subjects alongside an enrichment programme which aims to widen each boy's personal development. Named 'The Elizabethan', the programme has three strands – political, cultural and public speaking – and prepares students for life in modern Britain.

Entry to Wilson's School

Boys hoping to secure a place in Year 7 will need to take the 11 plus entrance exam while in Year 6. As a Sutton grammar school, Wilson's School uses the Sutton Selective Eligibility Test (SET), after which shortlisted pupils take the school's own English and maths papers.

How to apply to Wilson's School

4. The Tiffin Girls' School

Tiffin Girls' School

© tiffingirls.org

The Tiffin Girls' School is an all-girls selective school in Kingston upon Thames, southwest London. It is the sister school to the boys-only Tiffin School, which was established in the 17th century.

The school's vision is to provide 'an intellectually stimulating and outward-facing school, enabling students to flourish and contribute to society.' The Tiffin Girls' School excels in its provision of community outreach and charitable initiatives and in 2016, the school was a local winner of the Pupil Premium Awards due to its attainment and value-added progress of disadvantaged students.

Entry to The Tiffin Girls' School

Girls who are hoping to secure a place in Year 7 at The Tiffin Girls' School take a two-stage entrance exam in the year before entry. The first stage consists of English and maths tests set by GL Assessment and the second stage consists of English and maths papers written by the school.

How to apply to The Tiffin Girls' School

5. Altrincham Grammar School for Girls

Altrincham Grammar School for Girls

© aggs.bright-futures.co.uk

Altrincham Grammar School for Girls (commonly abbreviated as AGGS) is a girls' grammar school in Bowdon, Greater Manchester and was awarded the title 'Northwest Secondary School of the Year' in 2022 by the Sunday Times. It was established in 1910 as part of the 1902 Education Act, which aimed to build new schools with enhanced education for girls. With over 1,300 students on roll, it is the largest single-sex grammar school in England.

AGGS was one of the first schools in the country to be designated a National Teaching School, and it leads in many subjects including maths, science, PSHE and modern foreign languages. The school is a member of the Bright Futures Educational Trust.

Entry to Altrincham Grammar School for Girls

Girls hoping to secure a place in Year 7 at Altrincham Grammar School for Girls take entrance exams which assess skills in verbal reasoning, non-verbal reasoning and maths.

How to apply to Altrincham Grammar School for Girls

6. Pate's Grammar School

Pate's Grammar School

© patesgs.org

Pate's Grammar School is a mixed-sex school with academy status founded in 1574 in Cheltenham, Gloucestershire. In 2020, it was named the Sunday Times ‘State Secondary School of the Year’ and was awarded the title 'The Southwest Secondary School of the Year' in both 2017 and 2022.

The Pate's school community has a shared vision of 'Nurturing Excellence' through 'Embracing Challenge', 'Supporting Each Other' and 'Shaping the Future'. The school is proud of its exceptional pastoral care of both students and staff and outlines its focus on relationships and respect, rather than rules, in its 2025 vision.

Entry to Pate's Grammar School

Students hoping to join Pate's Grammar School in Year 7 will take the Gloucestershire Grammar Schools Test in Year 6. Candidates take two papers which include questions in reading comprehension, vocabulary, verbal reasoning, non-verbal reasoning and maths.

How to apply to Pate's Grammar School

7. St Olave's Grammar School

St Olave's Grammar School

© tes.com

St Olave's Grammar School is a selective state school for boys with a mixed sixth form in Orpington, southeast London. It was founded by royal charter in 1571 and is a beneficiary of the St Olave's and St Saviour's Schools Foundation.

'Olavians' (the name given to pupils at St Olave's) have high aspirations and leave the school for prestigious universities in the UK and beyond. In the last four years, 130 Olavians have secured Oxbridge places, with 102 and 171 boys going on to study engineering and medicine respectively.

Entry to St Olave's Grammar School

Boys applying to St Olave's Grammar School for Year 7 entry take the school's own Selective Eligibility Test (SET) in the September of Year 6. This consists of questions in English, maths, verbal and non-verbal reasoning. Candidates are then shortlisted for second-stage tests in English and maths.

How to apply to St Olave's Grammar School

8. King Edward VI Grammar School

King Edward VI Grammar School Chelmsford

© kegs.org.uk

King Edward VI Grammar School is a boys' grammar school with a co-educational sixth form in Chelmsford, Essex. It was founded through a royal warrant from King Edward VI in 1551 and maintains a consistently excellent academic reputation, driven by a strong focus on academic achievement and a serious work ethic. It was named 'East Anglia Secondary School of the Year 2022' by the Sunday Times.

Beyond the classroom, pupils at KEGS get involved in a wide range of lunchtime and after-school clubs and activities. Some of the many opportunities include orchestras, choirs and ensembles, drama productions and musicals, local and national fixtures in a wide range of sports, the Combed Cadet Force (CCF) and the Duke of Edinburgh Award.

Entry to King Edward VI Grammar School

Boys applying for Year 7 entry to King Edward VI Grammar School, Chelmsford take an 11 plus test set by the Consortium of Selective Schools in Essex (CSSE). This includes papers in English and maths.

How to apply to King Edward VI Grammar School

9. Colyton Grammar School

Colyton Grammar School

© twitter.com/colytongrammar

Colyton Grammar School is a co-educational school in Devon. It was founded in 1546 'for the goodly and virtuous education of children forever' and continues to provide an outstanding free education to academically-able boys and girls.

Colyton Grammar School describes itself as an inclusive school built on meritocracy. Children work hard, with the overwhelming majority of pupils progressing to the country's top higher education institutions such as Oxford, Cambridge and the Royal College of Music.

Entry to Colyton Grammar School

Year 7 candidates for Colyton Grammar School take two 11 plus papers which include questions that test verbal, numerical and non-verbal ability.

How to apply to Colyton Grammar School

10. King Edward VI School

King Edward VI School, Stratford-upon-Avon

© birminghammail.co.uk

King Edward VI School is a boys' grammar school, with a co-educational sixth form, in the historical Warwickshire town of Stratford-upon-Avon. It is known to have been in existence since 1295 and is traditionally thought of as 'Shakespeare's School', as the poet and playwright himself attended the school in the 1570s.

The school is smaller than average and aims to provide a secure, happy and well-ordered environment to allow pupils to flourish and develop new talents. King Edward VI School has an excellent reputation for its high academic standards, which are achieved alongside a full extra-curricular programme. The school was named the Sunday Times 'West Midlands Secondary School of the Year' in 2017 and 2022, and the 'Secondary School of the Decade' in 2020.

Entry to King Edward VI School

Boys applying for Year 7 entry to King Edward VI Grammar School take the Warwickshire and Birmingham Grammar Schools test in September in Year 6. This consists of two papers, set by GL Assessment, which test verbal reasoning, non-verbal reasoning and numerical ability (maths).

How to apply to King Edward VI School

Applying to a UK school from overseas?

This comprehensive guide covers all you need to know about:

  • Choosing a British school for your child

  • The application process

  • Visa requirements and practical considerations

  • Preparing for entrance assessments

Find out more
Moving to the UK for school: applying to UK schools from overseas

Atom

Learning

Follow Atom Learning

Atom Learning Ltd. is registered and incorporated in England and Wales. Company Registration Number: 10867907 VAT number: 316903508 Copyright Atom Learning Ltd. All rights reserved.